As I don’t know absolutely anything when it comes to Japanese, I’m still a big fan of their culture and I always wanted to learn, at least the basics. Unfortunately, I never had the time and money to do anything about it – and if you’re reading this, you probably are facing a similar problem. To try and make it more accessible both for you and me, I decided to dig out learning possibilities that might be easier. If you work, there’s little time to spare and that’s especially the crucial point with Japanese in my opinion. The first thing that came to my mind were apps so I did a bit of research in hopes of finding some useful apps and found this top 10 list.
In my opinion, the reason why learning Japanese is so time-consuming is that it’s highly different than English. The vocabulary structure is different and Japanese uses 3 different alphabets. So, I picked some apps and organized them in two categories: apps that excel at vocabulary and apps that excel at teaching you the alphabet. I’ll also provide a short review of each one.
Apps For Learning Japanese Vocabulary
Although learning a language completely can be hard, learning the basics doesn’t have to be! I think most people are looking for something to give them basic words, so I picked a couple of apps to help you with basic Japanese vocabulary.
Japanese Vocabulary Apps: Rosetta Stone, Learn Japanese Phrases, Learn Japanese Phrasebook
I’m guessing most of you heard about Rosetta Stone as it’s been around. And although the app provides a lot of more than just teaching you basic vocabulary, for me it worked best to teach me basic words and phrases. Still, if you’re here just for vocabulary, you might want to skip Rosetta as other features might get in your way.
Learn Japanese Phrases is less popular than Rosetta Stone, but it does one thing great – teaching you basic Japanese so I decided to include this one. I found it to be especially helpful with learning basic pronunciation. Another thing that might be helpful to people who are thinking of traveling to Japan is it’s usable offline. The only drawback is the constant flow of ads that might mess with your concentration.
Finally, I’d suggest Learn Japanese Phrasebook if you’re actually going to Japan. The app doesn’t offer nearly as much as the other two, but it does offer everything you need if you want to find your way in Japan. It’s one of the apps that’s based on the less is more principle. Because it doesn’t have much it becomes extremely easy to use in specific situations. The drawback is, of course, you won’t be able to learn much, just enough.
Apps For Learning Basic Japanese Writing
It goes without saying that the best way to learn any language is to actually go there. But, I can see a few reasons why reading Japanese newspapers might not be that helpful.If you really want to nail the basics of Japanese alphabet, here are a couple of apps that can help you with that.
Japanese Writing Apps: Drops, Learn Japanese
I’ll start with another fairly popular app – Drops. Although you probably won’t be able to completely nail Japanese writing, I found this app to be quite useful when it comes to turning a hard task into a simple lesson. The snappy 5-minute lessons the app provides are extremely good at feeding you tiny pieces of knowledge. So although you won’t learn fast, you’re likely to remember everything you learn in a single day.
The second app in this category is another app with a general name – Learn Japanese. Drops is certainly better designed, but I found Learn Japanese to hold its ground when it comes to teaching you how to read Japanese characters like Hiragana and Katakana. Again, don’t expect to learn everything in a month, but it does offer a solid start. The only drawback that after a couple of lessons, the app asks you to pay for next lessons.
Whether you need a full linguistics experience or just a travel-related crash course, I think the listed apps will help you as you go. They are certainly helpful if you want to learn to speak, read and write Japanese with confidence without sacrificing much of your time. If you decide to pick one of the apps, let me know what you think.